The gods of fate must have smiled upon me because I somehow got tickets for Blizzcon this past weekend. I’ve been a fan of Blizzard games ever since I laid a finger on World of Warcraft, and going to Anaheim with like-minded fans has been part of my bucket list for years.

I am ashamed to say that this Blizzcon, I didn’t go to any panels. I actually didn’t even try any of the new World of Warcraft gameplay (but I did play Warcraft 3: Reforged). Why, you ask? Why would I squander such an opportunity?

I was too engrossed in watching the Overwatch World Cup.

Credit: Robert Paul @tempusrob

You see, I was one of those people who bought Overwatch as soon as it was announced. Unfortunately, my computer wasn’t powerful enough to run it so I had to resort to watching the game being played on Twitch. When Blizzcon 2016 came around, I caught my first ever Overwatch World Cup live. I saw players such as TviQ, INTERNETHULK, and Miro representing their respective countries. So it was then that I fell in love with Overwatch esports.

It’s always been a dream of mine to attend an event where I could watch Overwatch being played competitively live. And last week, that dream came true.

It’s hard to understand just how much more exciting a game can be when you’re watching it live rather than when you’re just watching it on Twitch. When you’re there in the arena, the sound of the crowd is almost deafening. The speakers are on full blast and, at least at Blizzcon, the sound engineers did such a wonderful job that I could feel every headshot, every Tracer one-clip, every Winston jump pack. If you thought Overwatch’s headshot dink was satisfying, wait until you hear it live.

Credit: Robert Paul @tempusrob

There’s something mind-boggling about sitting across your favorite players, only a few steps away from them. As I watched the China-Canada game, I couldn’t help but look at the players every so often instead of the game. I kept focusing on how focused they were, on the movements on their keyboards, and I realized just how professional they seem.

And the crowd… Oh boy, the crowd. Since my country wasn’t even qualified and I have a strong penchant for rooting for the underdog, I decided I would root for China. So there I was, sitting among a bunch of Chinese people, chanting along in a language I didn’t understand, and yet I felt welcome. I cheered for China when they beat Canada, and I still cheered for them when they lost against South Korea. The energy of the fans was contagious – many of them had traveled long distances to cheer for their favorite players and did so passionately. Capping a point or killing a key target was met with an uproar from the fans, and in that moment I felt so welcome among them. At the end of the match, a young Chinese fan came up to my friend and I and sincerely said, “Thank you so much for cheering for my country.” Now and forever, bud.

Credit: Robert Paul @tempusrob

I’ve been to Soccer games, Baseball games, and even Football games. And I can safely say that the same energy that I felt at those matches, I felt at the Overwatch World Cup. In the end, esports are the sum total of its fans; a congregation of people who are passionate about gaming. To be surrounded by those like-minded people was a truly life-changing experience that I hope everyone will get to enjoy one day. It doesn’t have to be Overwatch, it could be League of Legends, Rocket League or even Starcraft. If you ever have the opportunity to watch an esports match live, I wholeheartedly recommend you do so.

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Efase is a writer for Parallax Media. He thoroughly enjoys esports, particularly Overwatch and Smash Bros. He hopes to expand the community by creating content that is easily accessible, regardless of past familiarity.

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